I have always wanted to go to a summer concert at the Monastare de Cimiez in Nice but surprisingly I have saved it for now!
This week I had the opportunity to go to a cloisters concert with friends and hear one of the foremost French pianists perform with Philippe Bender, conductor, and the Regional orchestra of Cannes.
Cimiez is to me, the most beautiful neighborhood in Nice. (French pronunciation: [simje] ) The area shelters the Musée Matisse and the ruins of Cemenelum, capital of the ancient Roman province Alpes Maritimae on the Ligurian coast.
This ancient town was an important rival of Nice, continuing to exist as a separate city till the time of the Lombard invasions. The ruins include an arena, amphitheatre, thermal baths, and paleochristian basilica.
You can see these ruins through the fence of the olive garden (if you don't want to pay to enter the museum). The large olive grove at Cimiez is a favorite for picnickers and until this year, was the venue for the Nice Jazz Festival.
And here near the olive grove can be found the Cimiez Monastery, its gardens and cemetery that have been used by the Franciscan monks since the 16th century.
Buried in the cemetery are the painters Henri Matisse and Raoul Dufy. (Matisse lived in nearby in the splendid Hotel Regina where Queen Victoria used to stay)
The summer concerts at the cloisters are a treat for those of us always searching for beauty and refinement. The gardens are breathtaking to start with and the small church against the summer sky is a stunning visual.
It also helped to see only champagne for sipping at this music celebration. No jeans, no tank tops.... just ladies and gents seemed to be in attendance. ...the picture of graciousness, sitting in twos or threes in the garden waiting for the seating to start.
To the beckoning gardens, add a mottled, dark blue sky, apricot colored lights thrown onto ancient walls where silhouettes of orchestra lamps make intricate patterns and haloes on the white sail cloth covering the players.
Seated in the cloisters during the concert, I really had to close my eyes for long stretches to take in the pastoral music....my visual and auditory senses were competing too much for me to take in all of it together.
The piano soloist last night was Brigitte Engerer. I found this about her on Mrs Sarkosy's blog:
Brigitte Engerer will be playing again on this summer's program( her favorite Liszt) on Monday August 1st. And the festival doesn't end until August 14.
Tickets can be purchased online at http://concerts.hexagone.net/music/nuits_musicales.htm or at the usual ticket booths.